Cincinnati Reds – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-02-20T12:12:05Z WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Red Sox, Padres Reportedly Still Negotiating Wil Myers Swap]]> 2020-02-19T14:27:35Z 2020-02-19T14:27:37Z FEBRUARY 19: The Pads are indeed interested in both Lindor and Senzel, Dennis Lin of The Athletic reports (subscription link). It’s even possible that the Myers talks with the Red Sox could morph into a three-team arrangement involving the Reds, Lin adds.

FEBRUARY 18: Spring Training is now upon us. Prior talks failed to result in a deal. And yet the Red Sox are still holding talks with the Padres about a potential deal that would send first baseman/outfielder Wil Myers to Boston, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Details are about as firm as you could ever hope to see them in a rumor of a potential swap. As before, the Friars want the Sox to take over about half of Myers’s salary (total guarantee of $61MM) over the next three years. Young talent would go to Boston to sweeten the pot. Players that have been discussed include Cal Quantrill, Luis Campusano, and Gabriel Arias, though it’s not clear which would be included and the Sox wouldn’t be able to obtain all of them just to take on half of what’s owed Myers.

That leaves out one major component of the as-yet-uncompleted trade talks: what would come back from the Red Sox? The original chatter between these teams involved Mookie Betts, who is no longer in the Boston stable. There’s no real indication just yet as to what current Red Sox might pique the interest of Padres GM A.J. Preller.

Yet more intriguing? The real goal, per Acee, is to swing a blockbuster for a high-level talent. He notes Nick Senzel of the Reds and Francisco Lindor of the Indians as longstanding targets, but it’s not really clear whether either is realistically available at this point. There aren’t many other conceivable candidates to be acquired who’d meet the description of a “difference-making” performer.

It’s fair to hold some skepticism here, especially as to the possible second prong of this scenario. Then again, Preller once pulled off a trade for Craig Kimbrel just before the start of a season, so it’s tough to rule out any mid-spring fireworks.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[MLBTR Poll: Who’s The NL Central Favorite?]]> 2020-02-19T01:00:37Z 2020-02-19T01:00:09Z With the exception of the Reds, who have made several notable moves, this hasn’t been an action-packed offseason in the National League Central. Cincinnati was a fourth-place team a season ago and is currently mired in a six-year playoff drought, but the club has made an earnest attempt to transform itself into a playoff contender since the 2019 campaign concluded. Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos and Shogo Akiyama have all come aboard in free agency to bolster the Reds’ position player group. Meanwhile, a rotation that was already strong in 2019 has tacked on Wade Miley to complement Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer and Anthony DeSclafani, and the bullpen has pulled in Pedro Strop.

The Reds only won 75 games last year, but at last check, the majority of MLBTR voters expect them to amass 80-some victories this season. In the NL Central, where there doesn’t appear to be a dominant team, it may only take 80-plus wins to claim the division. The Cardinals’ 91 led the way last year, but they’ve made no truly headline-grabbing acquisitions in recent months, they’ve lost outfielder Marcell Ozuna to the Braves and now one of their most reliable starters, Miles Mikolas, is dealing with arm troubles early in the spring.

Along with the Cards, the 2019 Central boasted two other plus-.500 teams – the Brewers (89 wins) and the Cubs (84). It wouldn’t be a surprise to see either team contend for the playoffs again this year, but it’s difficult to argue that they’ve gotten better since last season. The Brewers have made quite a few changes, especially in the infield (Brock Holt’s their latest pickup), but they also lost two of their best position players in Moustakas and catcher Yasmani Grandal earlier in free agency.

The Cubs, meantime, have been stunningly quiet for a deep-pocketed team that collapsed down the stretch in 2019. Seismic changes were expected after they laid an egg last year, and maybe they’ll still come (a Kris Bryant trade seems like the most realistic way to shake things up). For now, though, their roster looks a lot like the 2019 edition. There’s still plenty of talent on hand, but there’s no more Castellanos, who emerged as one of the Cubs’ main threats at the plate after they acquired him from the Tigers prior to last July’s trade deadline.

Aside from the Pirates, who are more likely to compete for the No. 1 pick than a playoff berth this year (and whom we’ll leave out of this poll), it wouldn’t seem unrealistic to pick any of the NL Central’s teams to win the division. This year’s PECOTA projections (via Daniel Kramer of have the Reds grabbing the division with 86 wins and the Cubs totaling 85 en route to a wild-card spot. The system gives the Reds 66.2 percent preseason playoff odds, the Cubs 51.5 percent, the Cardinals 24.4 percent and the Brewers 20.3. We still have several weeks to go before the season opens, but as of now, which of those clubs do you think will finish on top?

(Poll link for app users)

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Nick Senzel Discusses Trade Rumors]]> 2020-02-18T04:12:41Z 2020-02-18T04:12:41Z As of a few weeks ago, the Reds were reportedly “considering” trade scenarios centering on Nick Senzel. However, president of baseball operations Dick Williams then suggested the outfielder/second baseman isn’t going anywhere. That’s fine with Senzel, who said Monday (via Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer): “I’m happy to be here. I want to be here for my whole career. I want to play in Cincinnati for these fans and my teammates. Any time those talks come up or anything, there is literally nothing I can do about it. I have no control over it. The less I worry about it, the better.” Senzel then noted trade rumors are “part of the business, especially when top names are getting thrown around.” Indeed, it never seemed as if the Reds would move Senzel during the winter without getting back a star-caliber player in return.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Bell: Suarez Could Be Ready For Opening Day]]> 2020-02-13T18:22:02Z 2020-02-13T18:15:10Z Despite undergoing shoulder surgery to remove some loose cartilage in late January, Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez could potentially be ready to go by Opening Day, manager David Bell told reporters Thursday (Twitter link via Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer).

The injury was never expected to sideline Suarez for too much of the 2020 campaign; the Cincinnati organization announced at the time of the procedure that Suarez would be ready to play in games “near the beginning of the regular season.” That’s a relatively nebulous statement, but Bell suggests that recent tests/updates have encouraged the team.

Suarez’s injury status will be notable to follow for several reasons. Beyond the simple fact that he’s emerged as one of the National League’s better players and is on a club that enters the 2020 season more poised to contend that at any point in the past five years, Suarez’s status figures to have a ripple effect throughout the organization. Offseason signee Mike Moustakas was added with the idea that he’d move to second base on a full-time basis, but it’s conceivable that he could see action at third base early in the year should Suarez need some IL time. That could open the door for a non-roster player such as Derek Dietrich to again break camp with Cincinnati or for a younger player like Josh VanMeter to get some regular reps early in 2020.

The Reds surely want Suarez in the lineup as soon as possible, given that the 28-year-old broke out with a massive .271/.358/.572 slash and 49 home runs this past season. At the same time, the club also has to resist the temptation to rush him back into the fold, as a healthy Suarez figures to be a key anchor in a lineup that was bolstered by the offseason additions of Moustakas, Nick Castellanos and Shogo Akiyama.

The 2019-20 offseason saw the Pirates take a step back, the Brewers scale back payroll (while still making numerous low-cost moves), the Cardinals make only minimal additions and the Cubs barely even try to improve at all. The Reds look to be the most improved club in the division, and the extent to which Suarez is able to contribute should be an important factor in their chances of returning to contention in 2020.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Re-Sign Derek Dietrich]]> 2020-02-12T19:51:20Z 2020-02-12T19:51:20Z The Reds have re-signed infielder/outfielder Derek Dietrich to a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training, per a team announcement. He’s represented by All Bases Covered Sports Management.

It’s the second straight winter that Dietrich has inked a minors pact with Cincinnati. An injury to then-second baseman Scooter Gennett helped pave the way for him to land a spot on the big league roster last winter, and partway through the season, Dietrich looked to be one of the best minor league pickups in all of MLB. As of that early-June check-in, Dietrich had posted a stout .263/.369/.684 batting line while already establishing a new career-high in home runs through just 157 plate appearances. He was thriving both at the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park and on the road, but the now-30-year-old slugger saw his offensive output crater shortly thereafter.

From June 7 through season’s end, Dietrich turned in one of the least-productive lines of anyone in baseball: a .102/.284/.212 slash through 149 plate appearances. He managed to the uptick in walks he enjoyed through the season’s first two months, but the rest of his offensive skill set deteriorated at a rapid rate.

In all, Dietrich is a career .246/.334/.427 hitter with 79 home runs, 106 doubles and 21 triples in 2438 plate appearances between the Marlins and Reds. He has experience playing second base, first base, third base and the outfield corners.

This time around, Dietrich will face a new series of challenges in cracking a bulked up Cincinnati roster. The Reds have added sluggers Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos on four-year deals this winter, and they picked up Japanese star Shogo Akiyama on a three-year pact as well. It’s possible that the injury to Eugenio Suarez will give Dietrich a chance to win a roster spot, however, as the Reds could opt to deploy Moustakas at the hot corner while giving Dietrich a look at second base — if he performs well in Spring Training.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Outright Sal Romano]]> 2020-02-14T12:29:28Z 2020-02-12T01:10:42Z February 11: Romano cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Triple-A Louisville, per the Reds.

February 5: The Reds announced Wednesday that they’ve designated right-hander Sal Romano for assignment. His removal from the 40-man roster opens a spot for righty Pedro Strop, whose previously reported one-year deal in Cincinnati is now official.

Romano, 26, has shown some promise with the Reds in the upper minors and turned in a solid, albeit unspectacular debut effort back in 2017 when he tossed 87 innings of 4.45 ERA ball (4.24 FIP). Romano averaged 7.6 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and 0.93 HR/9 to go along with a strong 50.4 percent ground-ball rate in that rookie showing and looked like a potential back-end starter for what was then a still-rebuilding Reds club.

In the two years since that time, however, Romano’s results in the big leagues have cratered. He started 25 games in 2018 and made another 14 relief appearances but saw his ERA balloon to 5.31 as his strikeout rate (6.5 K/9), home-run rate (1.42 HR/9) and grounder rate (45.4 percent) went in the wrong direction. Romano did have some success in his 14 1/3 innings as a reliever that season, so the Reds tried him out as a full-time bullpen piece in 2019, but that experiment didn’t yield better results; Romano pitched to a 4.28 ERA in Triple-A and allowed 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks in 16 1/3 big league innings (7.71 ERA).

The Reds will now have a week to trade Romano, release him or place him on outright waivers. He’s out of minor league options, so any team that acquires him will either need to carry him on the Opening Day roster or else designate him for assignment once again during Spring Training.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Reds Linked To OF Prospect In 2020-21 Int'l Class]]> 2020-02-07T01:01:06Z 2020-02-07T00:51:59Z
  • Some of the top outfield prospects in the 2020-21 international draft class are profiled by Baseball America’s Ben Badler, who also details which teams are expected to sign these players on July 2.  The Reds, Pirates, Red Sox, and Rangers are all thought to have seven-figure bonuses lined up for four players from the Dominican Republic, though the Astros are reportedly ready to pay what may be the biggest bonus given to any player in the 2020-21 class — a deal in the neighborhood of $4MM to 21-year-old Cuban outfielder Pedro Leon.  Because of his age, Leon is already eligible to sign, though he will wait until the opening of the next July 2 window because most teams have exhausted most or all of their funds from their 2019-20 international signing pools.  The int’l market will take on added importance for the Astros over the next two years, as the club’s pipeline of top young talent will be limited after losing their top two picks in both the 2020 and 2021 amateur drafts as part of their punishment for the sign-stealing scandal.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds GM Nick Krall: “Nothing On The Horizon”]]> 2020-02-06T14:37:33Z 2020-02-06T14:37:33Z It has been an eventful offseason from start to finish for the Reds. GM Nick Krall indicated the club is likely finished with major additions, as C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic covers on Twitter.

    “I would say that for right now, there’s nothing on the horizon,” Krall says. That obviously doesn’t rule anything out. And the executive also noted that the team will continue to keep seeking opportunities to improve. But it seems a fair indication that the Cincinnati outfit isn’t actively engaged in any significant pursuits.

    Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams already made clear recently that the team doesn’t expect to make a move involving top young talent Nick Senzel, who is perhaps the organization’s most intriguing potential trade chip. Instead, the intention seems to be to take advantage of Senzel’s positional adaptability and hope he taps into his upside.

    The question remains: is this the right stopping point? By some accounts, the Reds are now the team to beat in the NL Central. On paper, there’s good reason to believe they’ll at least be in the thick of things. But the competition remains stout and the Reds have  now dedicated enough resources that it arguably makes sense to push yet further to maximize the chances of winning in the next few seasons. It’s a quality roster, but shortstop and catcher remain areas susceptible of improvement.

    Finding the right balance is always tough. The Reds previously parted with significant young talent to get to this stage — including young big leaguer Shed Long (for Sonny Gray) and top-100 prospects Taylor Trammell (for Trevor Bauer), Jeter Downs & Josiah Gray (for Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer). Entering this winter, Williams explained, the “preference all along was to spend money and add to the club without touching our prospects.”

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Details On Reds’ Pursuit Of Marcell Ozuna]]> 2020-02-04T18:18:45Z 2020-02-04T18:18:45Z It’s mostly of historical interest at this point, but the Reds’ pursuit of Marcell Ozuna was perhaps more spirited than was known at the time. The Cincinnati club offered him a three-year, $50MM contract, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link).

    Though it is somewhat unusual for a player to turn down a similar annual salary over a longer term for one on a shorter term, that’s just what Ozuna did. He picked the Braves’ offer of one year and $18MM. Whether the Reds also would’ve considered a single-season arrangement isn’t clear.

    For Ozuna, this was a calculated gamble — not unlike the one he took when he spurned the Marlins’ interest in an extension way back when. He’s still just 29 years of age and has shown rather an impressive offensive ceiling (143 wRC+ in 2017).

    If Ozuna can turn in another campaign along those lines, he might well earn a much larger contract. Even if not, another solid effort could allow him to take down something close to or even in excess of what the Reds would’ve paid him. At the same time, there’s always risk — especially for a corner outfielder who has endured some shoulder problems and sagging numbers of late.

    This bit of information is obviously also interesting because of its impact on the rest of the market. The Reds went on to strike a multi-year pact with Nick Castellanos, promising him $64MM over four seasons in a deal that he can opt out of after either of the first two campaigns.

    It’s still a bit unclear how the market interplay between these players unfolded, but it was obviously a major factor. Notably, the Castellanos deal is far more desirable from the player’s perspective than that obtained by Ozuna from the Braves. After all, the former’s contract conveys both the upside of a possible return to the open market as well as long-term security. Unless Ozuna had another reason to prefer Atlanta, it stands to reason that his offer from the Reds did not include such generous opt-out opportunities.

    Signing Ozuna cost a draft pick, it’s worth noting, since he turned down a qualifying offer from the Cardinals. He’s also no longer eligible to receive one in the future. The Reds might’ve been more comfortable with the structure they gave Castellanos since he did not cost a pick up front and remains eligible to receive a QO if he opts out (thus carrying the possibility of eventual draft compensation to the team).

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mariners Claim Jose Siri]]> 2020-02-03T18:50:37Z 2020-02-03T18:50:37Z The Mariners have claimed outfielder Jose Siri off waivers from the Reds, tweets C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic. The Seattle organization hasn’t formally announced the move yet and will need to make a corresponding 40-man transaction to open space for Siri, who was designated for assignment last week when the Reds inked Nick Castellanos to a four-year deal.

    Siri, 24, was considered to be among Cincinnati’s best farmhands just two years ago. FanGraphs, in fact, ranked him near the back end of the game’s 100 best prospects (No. 93 overall) heading into the 2018 campaign. At that point, he was a 22-year-old who was fresh off an impressive .293/.341/.530 slash with 24 homers and 46 steals in the Class-A Midwest League.

    Since that time, however, Siri has turned in a pair of disappointing seasons, logging a combined on-base percentage south of .300 in 2018-19 between Class-A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A. This past season, Siri mustered a lackluster .237/.300/.357 showing through 517 plate appearances in the minors, and he’s struggled even more heavily in the Dominican Winter League (.196/.264/.411 in 125 plate appearances).

    The addition of Siri comes not long after the Mariners learned that they’ll be without right fielder Mitch Haniger early in the season due to core surgery. Haniger recently suffered a setback when rehabbing from the ruptured testicle that sidelined him for much of the 2019 season and could miss up to eight weeks of action. With Haniger sidelined for what could be much of Spring Training, Siri will join an outfield mix consisting of Mallex Smith, Kyle Lewis, Dee Gordon, Jake Fraley and Braden Bishop. Siri has a minor league option remaining, so the Mariners can keep him even if he doesn’t break camp with the club.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Reds To Sign Pedro Strop]]> 2020-01-30T19:36:40Z 2020-01-30T19:16:45Z The Reds have agreed to a one-year, $1.825MM deal with free-agent reliever Pedro Strop, according to Hector Gomez of Deportivo Z 101 (Twitter link). The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal adds that incentives can push the value of the deal, which is still pending a physical, up to $3.5MM. Strop is represented by the Movement Management Group.

    It’s surprising that the Reds are coming away with Strop, who was reportedly deciding between the Marlins and Rangers as of last week. Nevertheless, it’s the latest strike in free agency for Cincinnati, a team clearly bent on returning to contention after a six-year drought. The Reds rank near the top of the National League in offseason spending via the open market, and Strop will go down as the second free agent they’ve pilfered from the division-rival Cubs. They took outfielder Nick Castellanos from Chicago earlier this week, though he cost far more money ($64MM) than Strop will collect.

    While the Reds have been aggressive in bettering their roster this winter, they haven’t been all that active in upgrading a bullpen that was middle of the pack last season. They’re returning some quality holdovers – Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett and Robert Stephenson, to name a few – and the hope is Strop will accompany them as a key late-game option for the club in 2020.

    The right-handed Strop, 34, has been quietly terrific over the past several years. Dating back to his 2011 breakout with the Rangers and Orioles, Strop has combined for a 3.00 ERA/3.32 FIP with 9.82 K/9, 3.89 BB/9 and a 54.8 percent groundball rate across 483 2/3 innings. He was mostly excellent with the Cubs from 2013-19, including during their championship drought-breaking 2016 campaign, but fell on hard times last season.

    A hamstring injury limiting Strop to 41 2/3 innings, his fewest since 2011, and he only managed a 4.97 ERA/4.53 FIP when he was healthy enough to pitch. He also saw his average fastball velocity dip from 95.1 mph the previous season to 93.6 mph. Despite the drop in heat, Strop did strike out 10.58 batters per nine and induce grounders at a 52.9 percent clip; however, he struggled with control and home runs. Strop walked 4.32 hitters per nine and yielded homers on a career-worst 18.8 percent of fly balls, though he was hardly alone in surrendering more dingers than usual during the most HR-friendly season in the history of the sport.

    The Reds are, of course, hoping Strop’s HR-FB rate bounces back toward his career mean of 10.1 percent. Regardless, he’s the latest of MLBTR’s top 50 free agents they’ve added. The club has now come away with five players from that list this offseason. And now that Strop’s coming off the board, Yasiel Puig (an ex-Red) and Brock Holt are the last ones standing.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Williams: Reds Don’t Expect To Trade Nick Senzel]]> 2020-01-30T17:58:17Z 2020-01-30T17:55:32Z January 30: Williams doubled down on his comments regarding Senzel in an appearance on MLB Network Radio’s Power Alley show (Twitter link, with audio), voicing a strong preference to keep him in the organization after what the club felt was a promising rookie campaign.

    “We had to go into this offseason, knowing that we wanted to add impact, we had to be open to trades,” said Williams. “We certainly talked about a lot of impact players out there. And when you’re going to acquire an impact player, a name like Nick Senzel is going to come up. But our preference all along was to spend money and add to the club without touching our prospects, and we’ve been able to do that.”

    January 29: Cincinnati’s signing of Nick Castellanos to a four-year contract this week further deepened the Reds’ outfield mix and opened up some questions about a potential trade of former No. 2 overall pick Nick Senzel. President of baseball operations Dick Williams, however, threw some cold water on recent rumors that popped up regarding Senzel, telling Bobby Nightengale Cincinnati Enquirer that he expects Senzel to be on the Reds’ roster come Opening Day.

    “He’s an impact, young offensive player,” Williams said of Senzel. “They don’t come along very often. The flexibility he brings to the club, attitude he brings. At this point, we see him as very much a part of a winning, championship team here.”

    That’s not a firm declaration that Senzel is wholly unavailable — there’s a point at which any team would budge on virtually any player — but these types of on-record comments from top-level executives aren’t often walked back, either. That Williams felt strongly enough to make such a statement is certainly notable and significantly dampens other organizations’ hopes of landing a player that just a year ago was considered to be among baseball’s 10 best prospects before an injury-shortened 2019 campaign.

    Shortened by injuries or not, there were some positives for the 24-year-old Senzel in his debut campaign. He didn’t set the game ablaze like some other vaunted prospects have in recent years, but few minor leaguers graduate to the Majors and hit the ground running at a full spring. Senzel hit .256/.315/.427 with a dozen homers and 14 steals (in 19 tries) through 414 trips to the plate. For a player who had finger and elbow surgery in 2018 and battled ankle troubles last spring, it was a respectable first showing, though the organization (and Senzel himself) surely hope there’s more in the tank.

    Perhaps most encouragingly, Senzel seemed to take to center field quite naturally. The converted third baseman was learning the position largely on the fly — particularly after missing the 2018 Arizona Fall League due to the aforementioned elbow procedure — but posted passable marks in Defensive Runs Saved (-1), Ultimate Zone Rating (-1.2) and Outs Above Average (0). For a position that was mostly foreign to him, Senzel seemingly proved that he has the athleticism to handle the spot — perhaps even at an above-average (or better) level once he gains more experience.

    Notably, despite surgery that could place third baseman Eugenio Suarez on the injured list to open the year, Williams again emphasized that Senzel wouldn’t be lining up at third base. Nor, it seems, will Senzel be considered an option at shortstop. The Reds haven’t made a marquee addition there, but Williams voiced confidence in Freddy Galvis and a reluctance to have Senzel try his hand at the spot after undergoing shoulder surgery of his own late last summer. “That’s the most difficult throw on the diamond to make,” Williams said in a nod to Senzel’s most recent surgery.

    For those keeping score, that’s three surgeries for Senzel in just over a year’s time, which will prompt some to question the 24-year-old’s durability. That, however, doesn’t appear to be a substantial concern for the Reds at this time, and the aforementioned depth the team possesses gives them plenty of alternatives in the event that Senzel’s injury troubles continue. Offseason signing Shogo Akiyama has long been a quality center fielder in Japan, and the Reds have Jesse Winker, Aristides Aquino, Phil Ervin, Travis Jankowski and Rule 5 pick Mark Payton as other outfield options on the 40-man roster.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[MLBTR Poll: How Good Are The Reds?]]> 2020-01-30T01:12:10Z 2020-01-30T01:11:19Z The Reds entered the offseason on the heels of their sixth straight sub-.500 showing, but president of baseball operations Dick Williams made it known at the end of the campaign that a seventh consecutive subpar effort wouldn’t be acceptable. The team’s goal when the winter began was to build its first playoff-level roster since 2013, and with most of its offseason heavy lifting likely done by now, there’s a case Cincinnati has done just that.

    As we noted previously, the Reds have been one of the highest-spending teams in the National League in free agency. They’ve added two $64MM players – infielder Mike Moustakas and newly signed outfielder Nick Castellanos – as well as $21MM outfielder Shogo Akiyama (their first-ever Japanese player) and $15MM left-hander Wade Miley via the open market.

    Now, the Reds’ position player cast – a group that finished last season 21st in WAR and 25th in runs – suddenly looks promising with Castellanos, Akiyama and some mix of Jesse Winker, Aristides Aquino and Nick Senzel in the outfield, Joey Votto at first base, Moustakas at second and Eugenio Suarez at third. But there are questions in the group, including the health of the 49-home run man Suarez – who could miss the beginning of the season after undergoing right shoulder surgery – and the strength of their catcher and shortstop positions. Both spots looked ripe for upgrades when the offseason began, but the Reds have so far stuck with Tucker Barnhart and Freddy Galvis, respectively, despite their interest in landing a much more formidable option at short. Moreover, there’s the possibility of a Senzel trade, which could provide a helpful return for one of the Reds’ weak spots, but Williams doesn’t sound like someone who’s ready to deal the prized 24-year-old.

    Meanwhile, there doesn’t appear to be a lot to worry about in the Reds’ starting staff. Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani and Miley comprise an impressive one to five on paper, though Bauer did have more than a little bit of trouble preventing runs after the Reds acquired him from the Indians last July. The bullpen, although largely untouched this offseason, also boasts its share of stone-cold locks. Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Robert Stephenson and Amir Garrett are all returning after posting respectable or better numbers in 2019.

    While it’s nice for the Reds that they’ve bettered their roster since last season’s 75-win effort, it’s also a boon that their division has seemingly taken steps back. The Cardinals won the NL Central in 2019, but they haven’t done anything all that notable since, and they just lost their No. 1 free agent, outfielder Marcell Ozuna, to the Braves. The Brewers – fresh off their second straight playoff season – have seen quite a few changes (good and bad) to their roster, including the losses of Moustakas and an even better free agent in catcher Yasmani Grandal. The Cubs have been quiet after a dismal finish to last season, and it’s still not out of the realm of possibility they’ll trade Kris Bryant or another important member of their roster before the new campaign rolls around. And then there’s the Pirates, who figure to be among the worst teams in the game this year.

    Between the improvements they’ve made and the actions (or lack thereof) of their divisional foes, this may be the time for the Reds to return to relevance in the NL. The way their roster looks now, do you think they’re capable of doing so?

    (Poll link for app users)

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds’ Contract With Nick Castellanos Includes Annual Deferrals]]> 2020-01-29T17:48:35Z 2020-01-29T17:48:35Z The deal recently struck between Nick Castellanos and the Reds will include some notable deferrals, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). The annual payouts won’t be pushed too far into the future, but will come on a delayed schedule that should assist the team with managing its payroll.

    Here’s the full structure of the four-year, $64MM contract, per the report and previously reported information

    • 2020: $16MM salary with $10MM payable during season and $2MM payments on January 15, 2021, February 1, 2021 & January 15, 2022
    • 2021: $14MM salary with $10MM payable during season and $2MM payments on January 15, 2022 & January 15, 2023
    • 2022: $16MM salary with $12MM payable during season and $2MM payments on January 15, 2023 & January 15, 2024
    • 2023: $16MM salary with $12MM payable during season and $2MM payments on January 15, 2024 & January 15, 2025
    • 2024: $20MM mutual option ($2MM buyout)

    Add it all up, and this is the full guaranteed payout schedule for Castellanos:

    • 2020: $10MM salary
    • 2021: $10MM salary + $2MM (1/15/21) + $2MM (2/1/21)
    • 2022: $12MM salary + $4MM (1/15/22)
    • 2023: $12MM salary + $4MM (1/15/23)
    • 2024: $2MM buyout (or $20MM salary) + $4MM (1/15/24)
    • 2025: $2MM (1/15/25)

    It should be noted: once earned, a given season’s salaries will still be paid by the team even if Castellanos opts out. He has two opportunities to do so, after each of the first two seasons of the contract. Should he opt out, Castellanos would sacrifice the ability to earn additional money under the contract but not the right to receive the deferred payment for what he had already earned.

    This deferral schedule is a bit complicated, but doesn’t wildly alter the value of the contract. By comparison, some other contracts — for instance, Max Scherzer’s agreement with the Nationals — have pushed the earnings much further into the future and required rather more significant adjustments to assess the true cost of the signing.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Free Agent Spending By Team: National League]]> 2020-01-29T07:45:35Z 2020-01-29T07:02:42Z With the clear exception of the still-unsigned Yasiel Puig, free agency is almost devoid of high-upside contributors at this point. The majority of players capable of securing guaranteed contracts have already come off the board, making this a good time to check in on which teams have spent the most and which clubs have paid the least via the open market. We’ve already gone through the same exercise for the American League, where the Yankees have returned to the top of the heap as the biggest spenders in their league and in the sport in general. Meanwhile, over in the Senior Circuit, reigning world champion Washington clearly isn’t resting on its laurels after a storybook playoff run…

    Nationals: $316.75MM on 10 players (Stephen Strasburg, Will Harris, Daniel Hudson, Starlin Castro, Yan Gomes, Howie Kendrick, Eric Thames, Asdrubal Cabrera, Ryan Zimmerman and Kyle Finnegan; financial details unclear for Finnegan; top 50 MLBTR signings: four)

    Reds: $164MM on four players (Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, Shogo Akiyama and Wade Miley; top 50 signings: four)

    Phillies: $132MM on two players (Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius; top 50 signings: two)

    Braves: $116.25MM on nine players (Will Smith, Marcell Ozuna, Cole Hamels, Travis d’Arnaud, Chris Martin, Nick Markakis, Tyler Flowers, Darren O’Day, Adeiny Hechavarria; top 50 signings: five)

    Diamondbacks: $109.65MM on five players (Madison Bumgarner, Kole Calhoun, Hector Rondon, Stephen Vogt and Junior Guerra; top 50 signings: two)

    Brewers: $48.38MM on eight players (Avisail Garcia, Josh Lindblom, Justin Smoak, Brett Anderson, Eric Sogard, Alex Claudio, Ryon Healy and Deolis Guerra; financial details unclear for Healy and Guerra; top 50 signings: two)

    Padres: $48MM on three players (Drew Pomeranz, Craig Stammen and Pierce Johnson; top 50 signings: three)

    Mets: $24.35MM on four players (Dellin Betances, Rick Porcello, Michael Wacha and Brad Brach; top 50 signings: three)

    Marlins: $23.855MM on five players (Corey Dickerson, Brandon Kintzler, Francisco Cervelli, Matt Joyce and Yimi Garcia; financial details unclear for Joyce; top 50 signings: one)

    Giants: $17.775MM on four players (Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly, Tony Watson and Tyler Anderson; top 50 signings: one)

    Dodgers: $15.25MM on three players (Blake Treinen, Alex Wood and Jimmy Nelson; top 50 signings: one)

    Cardinals: $15MM on three players (Adam Wainwright, Kwang-hyun Kim and Matt Wieters; top 50 signings: one)

    Cubs: $2.5MM on three players (Steven Souza Jr., Jeremy Jeffress and Ryan Tepera; top 50 signings: zero)

    Pirates: Signed OF Guillermo Heredia and C Luke Maile (financial details unclear; top 50 signings: zero)

    Rockies: Signed RHP Jose Mujica (financial details unclear; top 50 signings: zero)